Challenging times for Sport
Reports indicate that the global economic crisis is extending its tentacles into every sphere of activity in almost every nation. We have seen the loss of employment in every sector by the thousands and soon we shall hear of millions of people having been placed on the sidelines. The impact has already been described as devastating and many political leaders are at their wits’ end trying to come to terms with what is happening.
What the world now faces is an unbelievable expose in the extensive nature of human greed. The crisis is nothing short of a classic example of the unquenchable thirst of today’s business leaders for profit that the overall impact on their fellow human beings is of no consequence. That is what we have seen in the recent decision of several US business leaders to maintain their hefty bonuses from institutions that are at the same time claiming bankruptcy and clamouring for government ‘bailout’.
Indeed, ‘bailout’ is probably the latest buzz word in the American and global lexicon.
In Europe they have already begun speaking about the second wave in the economic crisis as some financial institutions have grown that much clearer in highlighting their own losses.
At the regional level we have had for the first time a financial institution, CLICO, virtually going belly-up, in a manner of speaking, sending shock-waves throughout the financial community in the Caribbean, something that is far from finished and the consequences of which are yet to be explained despite the intervention of the Trinidad and Tobago government.
At the local level, the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance is yet to be realistic about the impact of the global crisis on the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines. Having failed to establish income-generating enterprises since taking office in 2001 the ruling regime continues to befuddle the Vincentian masses into accepting the rubbish that we have ‘weathered the storm’. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
The recent CLICO scenario impacts St Vincent and the Grenadines where the organisation has a strong presence.
Vincentians at home have already been experiencing layoffs and offers of taking earlier-than-expected leave. In other words they are thrown onto the breadline without any idea of what the future holds. They have no idea of how they would survive, to say nothing of the family members that depend on them for their own survival.
Some Vincentians are not even aware that British American is owned by CLICO.
In the face of the economic crisis people everywhere have been forced to tighten their belts. They have learnt to curb their tendency towards reckless indulgence in consumerism. However, rather interestingly, the essence of the so-called economic stimulus packages being developed in the US and elsewhere is that they want to get the same unemployed and near-impoverished people to return to their old habits of spending more and saving less. They claim that is the only way that the economies would get going again.
Unfortunately this is one scenario about which the erstwhile Prime Minister and Minister of Finance in St Vincent and the Grenadines would be unable to chastise critics as ‘prophets of doom’. Some may even want to suggest that his own approach to debt creation in his management of the country’s economy can be seen as exacerbating the potential impact of the global crisis on the workers in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
The changing economic circumstances are so far-reaching in their impact that sport is not exempt. Yet this is an aspect of the crisis that few are addressing, especially the political leaders in our Caribbean region.
Of course in most of the countries of the Caribbean sport runs a poor last in all of their programmes requiring attention and budgetary allocations even as the leaders boast of their commitment to it and to wellness. There is probably no single Caribbean country where sport has been allocated its own ministry. This is reflective of the importance given to the very area of national development that almost every Caribbean government endorses with lip service especially when elections are pending.
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